The Diary of Virginia Woolf Vol. 5 by Virgina Woolf (Edited by Anne Olivier Bell) - review by Christopher Hawtree

Christopher Hawtree

Sequacious and Robust

The Diary of Virginia Woolf Vol. 5


The Hogarth Press 420pp £17.50 order from our bookshop

‘I was overcome with happiness ... after 25 years can’t bear to be separate ... it is an enormous pleasure, being wanted: a wife. And our marriage so complete.’ This passage from Virginia Woolf’s diary for 1937 is one of many that may cause some vexation to those feminists who have in recent years simplistically turned her into a guru for their movement. Even as war approached, ‘we privately are so content. Bliss day after day. So happy cooking dinner, reading, playing bowls’. When faced by such peculiar displays of breastbeating as the article in which Phyllis Grosskurth, while ostensibly reviewing the final volume of letters, all but said that Mrs Woolf was driven to suicide by her husband, it is more important than ever to stress the feeling of happiness which pervades this remarkable diary which now can, with only a few gaps, be read in full.

Despite all the horror ‘that lies over the water in the brain of that ridiculous little man’ as he struts ‘chewing his little bristling moustache’, these were again productive years for Virginia Woolf; whether interrupted by the Anreps (clearly related to the Connollys of Put Out More Flags) or by falling bombs, it

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

RLF - March

A Mirror - Westend

Follow Literary Review on Twitter